Hubble Resolves Two Pairs of Quasars

These two NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images reveal two pairs of quasars that existed 10 billion years ago and reside at the hearts of merging galaxies. Each of the four quasars resides in a host galaxy. These galaxies, however, cannot be seen because they are too faint, even for Hubble. The quasars within each pair are only about 10,000 light-years apart—the closest ever seen at this cosmic epoch.

Quasars are brilliant beacons of intense light from the centers of distant galaxies that can outshine their entire galaxies. They are powered by supermassive black holes voraciously feeding on infalling matter, unleashing a torrent of radiation.

The quasar pair in the left-hand image is catalogued as J0749+2255; the pair on the right, as J0841+4825. The two pairs of host galaxies inhabited by each double quasar will eventually merge. The quasars will then tightly orbit each other until they eventually spiral together and coalesce, resulting in an even more massive, but solitary black hole.

The image for J0749+2255 was taken 5 January 2020. The J0841+4825 snapshot was taken 30 November 2019. Both images were taken in visible light with Wide Field Camera 3.


NASA, ESA, H. Hwang and N. Zakamska (Johns Hopkins University), and Y. Shen (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

About the Image

NASA press release
Release date:6 April 2021, 18:09
Size:1860 x 920 px

About the Object

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